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62 posts from December 2006

Michigan companies seem to be taking new tilt about employees expressing their religious faith

Michigan companies seem to be loosening up about employees who are outgoing about their religious faith, according to a Detroit Free Press story this morning. Prayer, Bibles and sharing of beliefs is apparently not the bogeyman it once was perceived to be.

What about the person who goes over the line in their enthusiasm for their beliefs by showing intolerance for those who believe differently? I bet this is not the last we have heard of this issue.

Michigan needs every bit of God's grace and wisdom it can get.

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Is Michigan's Capital--Lansing--struggling because its churches are moving to the suburbs?

Michigan's Capital--the city of Lansing--is a hurting city. Talk to its political leaders, they will give you a big smile and say that it's coming back. Just talk to the people who live here.

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Question: Was Jesus really born of a virgin?

I am trying to spend time thinking about the key issues that make Christmas special. If I don't make an intentional effort to do this, I will get distracted by everything from television to the telephone.

A key Christmas distinctive is that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Think about it. That's a pretty outrageous claim. Any proof? What does the Bible say and what do non-biblical sources say.

In this online video, former Chicago Tribune reporter Lee Strobel talks about this and about what the evidence shows.

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Peter "Frank Barone" Boyle will be missed because of his role on "Everybody Loves Raymond"

Okay, I really laugh at the goings-on of the Barone family in "Everybody Loves Raymond." It's functional dysfunction with humor and where everybody loves each others regardless.

That's why I'll miss Peter Boyle, who played the head of the Barone family. On any given episode, he could be a real pig who disrespected his wife and everybody else. He was just himself, but he still loved his family and they loved and accepted him.

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Michigan's children's ombudsman meets with state lawmakers behind closed doors about Ricky Holland

So far, Michigan's children's ombudsman, Verlie Ruffin, should get high marks for her handling of the Ricky Holland case where a seven-year-old was brutally murdered by his parents who adopted him.

After so many years of contentiousness over the state's handling of children protection cases, it's heartening to see that the ombudsman and the legislature have been able to set aside issues like confidentiality. This way the legislature can learn about the problems and debate ways for the state to better help at-risk kids.

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When Christmas shopping at the mall, check the security guard for his taser gun

In Michigan, don't get an attitude with the security guard at the shopping mall. It looks like Gov. Jennifer Granholm will soon sign a bill to allow them to carry taser guns which temporarily disable people with electric shocks. They are supposed to be a safety way to subdue combative suspects.

I don't recall reading about legislative debate on this issue. News media probably ignored it.

This is why state legislators need blogs. Citizens need to become part of the political and the policy conversation. Blogs and wikis could be a tool to help advance this.

A big part of being an effective state lawmaker is being an educator. Constituents need to be taught about the issues and they need to be engaged in the debate.

How would you grade your state lawmakers in that effort?

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Starting year three of being a 60-year-old baby-boomer retiree

When the calendar rolls around to Jan. 1, I will start my third year as a retiree. During the past two years I have been dealing with the challenges of taking an early retirement and reinventing yourself in the process.

As a member of the first class of baby-boomers who were born in 1946 I enthusiastically grabbed the chance to leave my chosen career and try something different.

I write this as a help to other baby-boomers contemplating retirement or who may already be there. I firmly believe that we can learn from each other. Perhaps somebody's experience might light a spark that could be a difference-maker to others.

During the next couple of weeks, I would like to use this space to sort out where I've been and where I want to go. Comments, questions and sharing are invited. I do moderate comments, but I'm pretty liberal in what I allow to be posted. I'm not afraid of somebody who disagrees with me, but I shy away from spam and from vulgarity and that sort of thing.

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Link: Kids Count Data Book for Michigan in 2006

There's a significant group of at-risk kids in Michigan and the number is growing. Here's data from the Kids Count Data Book released today.

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In Michigan, the number of abused and neglected kids skyrockets from 1997-2005

Right now on my couch, I have an envelope from the Greater Lansing Food Bank that was tucked into the Lansing State Journal this morning. After reading this story in the Detroit News from today's online edition, I should probably write a check and send it.

The story states: "Michigan's children are sinking deeper into poverty and more are lansing in foster care as the economy continues to falter and the state has cut or frozen services that support children."

The numbers come from the latest Kids Count in Michigan report that was released today. The story also states:

  • The growth in abuse and neglect cases -- from 22,000 cases in 1997 to 29,500 in 2005 -- did not come from brutal abuse cases, such as the high-profile Ricky Holland case.
  • Most of the growth occurred when parents failed to provide for their child's basic needs, such as food and clothing.

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Michigan needs to debate whether taxpayers should have to pay for prison inmates healthcare

I just read the story in today's Detroit Free Press about Lloyd Byron Martell who's dying of terminal colon cancer.  While serving time in one of Michigan's prisons, he had a  hemorrhoid lanced which was actually a  cancerous polyp.  The doctor failed to treat it and now Martell  is dying.  Early treatment could have possibly contained the cancer.

Michigan's treatment of the health care needs for its 50,000 plus inmates has been found lacking by the courts.

  • What should our culture's attitude be about taking care of state inmates? 
  • Should we provide them the care that those on the outside expect? 
  • Or should we say tough luck, you violated the law and now you need to accept whatever you get?
  • Isn't there a verse in Matthew where Jesus praises those who look out for those in prison? 
  • Was this just figurative or did he mean it literally?

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U.S. Census Bureau numbers shows the effect of Christmas on all parts of the economy

Okay, the birth of Jesus may be forgotten at Christmas, but it's still a holiday that touches our economy at all levels.  The U.S. Census Bureau shares compelling numbers that shows how widely people participate in the season:

  • The amount of money the nation's Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2005 was $485 million.  Oregon was top state in tree sales, followed by North Carolina and Michigan.
  • The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2006 was $605 million.  China was the leading country of origin for such items.
  • The value of U.S. imports of stuffed toys (excluding dolls) from China between January and August 2006 was $639 million.  China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country.
  • The retails sales by the nation's department stores in December 2005 was $31.7 billion.  This represented a 47 percent jump from the previous months..
  • The number of letters, packages and cards the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year is 20 billion.  The busiest mailing day this year is expected to be Dec. 18 with more than twice as many cards and letters being processed as the average on any given day.


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GMs Lansing-built Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia hit a bump on way to customers

You might have to way a few extra days to buy GMs new Lansing-built Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia because of an engine mount problem, according to an afternoon story in the online Detroit Free Press.

Water builds up in the vehicles' engine mounts where it freezes in the cold weather.  The ice reduces the engine mounts' ability to absorb engine vibration and keep the passenger compartment quiet, accord to the story.  The problem is not safety-related, GM said.

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My Sunday a.m. web surfing: MSU president gets $70,000 raise

It's almost shower time as I get ready to go to church.  I've looked at the online Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Indy Star, New York Times and Washington Post.  I've even read the online devotion from Our Daily Bread.

But, the story that stands out is about Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon getting a 16 percent raise.  That works out to $70,000 per year and brings her annual salary to $495,000.

She might be a crackerjack executive and administrator, but I'm not impressed that the MSU board would offer such a raise and I'm less than impressed that she would take it.

President Simon needs to lead by example.  People in Michigan are struggling just to put food on the table and get health care.  And with tuition at her institution going through the roof, she should be letting people know she understands through her example.

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Links to media coverage of continuing developments in Ricky Holland case

With the unprecedented release of an investigative report from the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman about the Ricky Holland case, here are links to the ongoing media coverage:

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Are You a Christian vs. Christ-follower videos on YouTube are a must watch

Here's a little something to think about with church on tap tomorrow for many people:  It's excellent YouTube videos which a parodies of the Mac/PC commercials from Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois.

Their topic:  Are You a Christian vs. Christ-follower

Do these videos work?  Do they make a point?

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An encouragement for those singled, widowed, divorced or grieving from the book of Ruth

My wife and I wake up with Pastor David Jeremiah every morning with his Turning Point program on WUGN in Midland, MI.  As we awaken, we hear the word of God preached with a special relevancy for everybody.

His daily e-mail devotion today was from the book of Ruth 4:13-22 and has special relevance for those who have experienced a difficult loss, whether through divorce, sickness, death or some other kind of grief.

There is hope and there is a promise that those suffering will not lack anything they need including friends.

Pastor Jeremiah recounts that:

"Naomi was a widow whose sons had died.  She was alone in the world, living on a shoestring, stranded in a foreign nation and lonely."

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Michigan Department of Human Services director admits mistakes in Ricky Holland case

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Marianne Udow admitted this afternoon that her department made mistakes in the handling of the Ricky Holland case.  The seven-year-old boy was brutally murdered by this parents.

The director provided details in this Detroit Free Press story where the department's care for Ricky, a foster child adopted by the Hollands. 

She was reacting to a report of the findings and recommendations by the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman who investigated the department's handling of the case.

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MI Ombudsman releases report on Ricky Holland, seven-year-old murdered by parents

The Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman just released the report of its investigation into the state's role in protecting seven-year-old Ricky Holland of Williamston who was murdered by his parents.

Jack Kresnak's story about the report in today's Free Press shows how the ombudsman, Verlie Ruffin, is taking a more aggressive and independent position in examining complaints about Michigan's safety net for at-risk kids.

The report shows several critical areas where the state's child protection and foster care apparatus failed the murdered youngster.

Next step is critical where the state legislature needs to hold aggressive and assertive oversight hearings.

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If you're concerned about government spending, then meet U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin

If you're concerned about how the federal government is spending the money you kick into the U.S. Treasury, then you might want to become acquainted with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.

The newspaper Human Events reports that he has a pedigree as a fiscal conservative and that he will be the ranking minority member of the U.S. Budget Committee when the new Congress meets in January.  He will be a key architect in getting a federal budget passed.

Go to his Congressional website and you'll find some interesting information that reveals his core values and his past actions.  Interesting so far.  But, how many people understand the policy jargon and budget minutia on his site.

A big part of the role of any government official is to educate constituents.  As a main member of the Budget Committee, his constituency is the whole country.

He needs a blog written by himself.  There are lots of bloggers around the country who would gladly help him set one up and maintain it.  I would be happy to help.

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Detroit Free Press tech columnist reports that 9 out of every 10 e-mails is spam

I certainly haven't seen this with my Mac iBook, but Mike Wendland, the tech columnist for the Detroit Free Press reports this morning that 9 out of every 10 every 10 emails we get is spam.  He writes about tricks spammers are using like image spam, random word spam and multiple mail servers.

By the way, under his byline, it says he's the paper's convergence editor.  What's that?

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